First Premier Mandatory tournament on the WTA calendar Is here!
After dynamic, interesting and not very good start of the season for more of top players, it’s time for Indian Wells. With the second largest tennis stadium in the world (after Arthur Ashe) Indian Wells tennis Garden is perfect stage for great battles.
First seed and world number one is Serena Williams. Last year the American made her comeback in the tournament after 14-year spurn. Though she got only 5 appearances here, Serena owns 2 titles from the elite tournament. Her way on this year BNP Paribas Open start with qualifier or Begu, potential 3rd round opponent is 27-th seed Kristina Mladenovic, and 4th round opponent – Dubai champion Sara Erani. In 2015 Serena reached ½ Final , but she didn’t play her match against Halep. Serena returns to action for the first time since Australian open final, where she was beaten by Angelique Kerber. After that long pause it’s interesting in what form Serena will be.
After 15-year boycott, Venus Williams returns to Indian Wells. Two time semifinalist here, she won her 49-th title less than a month ago in Kaohsiung. She could meet Andrea Petkovic in 3rd round. The German reached ½ Final in Doha, but was unable to complete her match against Ostapenko.
Defending Indian Wells champion Simona Halep looks under a big pressure in the Indian Wells start. The Romanian started 2016 positive with ½ Final in Sydney, but 3 first round losses followed, including in the Australian open. Halep’s possible 3rd round opponent is 30-th seed Ekaterina Makarova. Makarova lost her last 3 matches and had never won 2 consecutive ones in Indian Wells. With many points to defend Halep have to show full focus. In the 4th round she might play Venus Williams, and if she reached quarters – her sister, Serena.
In the other quarter of the top half there is a place for the 3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska and 8th seed Petra Kvitova. Radwanska is constant in tournaments that she playс during this season by winning the title in Shenzhen in the first week of january, and then played ½ Final in AO, where she was stopped by Serena Williams. Now she could meet Dominika Cibulkova on 2nd round, Heather Watson or Monica Niculescu in the 3rd. Cibulkova came back after an injury and looks forward to regain old positions and Watson won the title in Monterey on Sunday. In the 4th round, Radwanska could face the veteran – Jankovic or Kuznetsova. Jelena, former world number one, champion here and last year finalist is always a danger. Kuznetsova won her title no. 16 this January in Sydney and she is also a runner up in Indian Wells.
In a possible 4th round battle two compatriots Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova may collide. 8th seed Kvitova started this year so bad with only 2 wins in 8 matches. (Including 2 losses in Fed Cup). In the 2nd round she could face the young American Samantha Crowford, on the 3rd – the German Sabine Lisicki. Lucie Safarova is back after injury and she will play her second match for the year. Her 3rd round potential opponent is Madyson Keys. Like Safarova, Keys played only one tournament before Indian Wells – Australian open, where she reached 4th round.
Angelique Kerber is the leader in the bottom half of the draw. After the great start of the season, including final in Brisbane and the first Grand Slam title in Australia, Kerber made shocking loss in her first match in Doha. The German, which also made her highest rank as no.2, is time to show the game which helped her to win in Melbourne. First seeded player that she could meet is Johana Konta. Kerber and Konta played in the semis in Melbourne and the winner from this match was the winner of the tournament. They can bring the spirit of the game from Australia and here and Johana Konta may seek a revenge.
Kerber’s potential 4th round opponent is former champion and world number one Ana Ivanovic or Karolina Pliskova. Ivanovic, the 14th seed, is going to meet a tough opponent on her first match. She will play against winner of Goerges – Giorgi. Both, Ivanovic and Pliskova didn’t make a good start of the year and definitely they’ll be looking forward to show good tennis here.
Other two players in good form are in the same quarter – Carla Suarez Navaro and Sloane Stephens. World number 6 Navaro reached her highest position in the rankings last week. She won the biggest title in her career in Doha and played in the Quarters in Melbourne. On Carla’s way stand two times Indian Wells champion Daniela Hantuchova. The Slovak didn’t reached good results last year and looks at the end of her career, but it is never too late for good tennis. Carla’s 3rd round opponent might be the young Anna Karolina Shmiedlova and in the 4th round – Sloane Stephens may await here, the only player with two titles in 2016. Solid hitting Stephens won Aucklend on January and before a week – Acapulco.
The most prosperity young players – Belinda Bencic and Garbine Muguruza аре in collision course in the 1st half of the bottom part of the draw. Bencic, seeded as no.7, reached one final in 2016 in St. Petersburg. She could meet Australian Daria Gavrilova in the 3rd round, Svitolina or Vinci in the 4th. Elina Svitolina, the 17th seed, won her 4th WTA title couple of days ago in Kuala Lumpur and Vinci, the 9th seed, won the Saint Petersburg trophy last month. US open finalist against the “young gun” definitely grabs attention.
After her big progress in 2015, Garbine Muguruza is trying to find her form now. She didn’t passed ¼ Finals in a single tournament she played from the start of season. On her way here is the veteran Samantha Stosur. In the 4th round Garbine could meet former number one and Indian Wells champions Victoria Azarenka or Caroline Wozniacki. Azarenka, the 13th seed, started the season with solid performance in Brisbane, where she didn’t drop a set to win her first title since 2013, and after that she was stopped in Melbourne from the future champion Angelique Kerber. Vika , champion from 2012 potential 3rd round opponent is the 2011 champion and 20th seed Caroline Wozniacki.
Be prepared for 2 weeks of non stop action from the best in the game
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